Football notes - Rebels set to fight for their cause

November 02, 2000

Football notes - Rebels set to fight for their cause

For the South Hagerstown football team, it all goes on the line tonight at School Stadium.

The Rebels are one of the most improved teams in the Tri-State area this season, recovering from last season's 0-10 debacle to sit at 5-3 and in the hunt for a playoff spot.

But the Rebels face a Middletown team that has made the most improvement of any team in the area over the course of the 2000 season and has had the Rebels' number ever since they entered the Monocacy Valley Athletic League.

"They are playing tough, tough football right now, and coming off three straight shutouts," South coach Greg Kellick said. "By the same token, the last two weeks have been like playoff situations for us, and that's how we're preparing for this game. Because if we lose, we're out of it."


South has won two straight after a lackluster loss to Francis Scott Key on Oct. 13. The Rebels are 11th in the Class 1A playoff standings, with Middletown and North Hagerstown remaining on the schedule.

"The loss to FSK, if we had won that game, we would have controlled our own destiny, and we might have only needed to win one of these last two games," Kellick said. "We have to win and get some breaks along the way and see what happens from there.

"This is the ninth game and we're still in it. Not many teams can say that."

Kellick said that is about as far as any playoff talk has gone with his team. He said he wants the focus to be on Middletown, not what lies ahead after Middletown.

If South's past record against the Knights is used as an indicator, the Rebels' focus will need to be incredibly clear.

South has never beaten Middletown in 11 tries since it joined the league in 1989. The Rebels have scored just 33 points in those 11 games.

But, Kellick points out, this one is different. For the first time since the series began, this game is an important one for the Rebels.

"When we were at the 2A level, if you're 5-3 coming into this game, you have no shot at the playoffs," Kellick said. "This year, we have a shot. We have to play this one like a playoff game.

"The kids feel like they're confident, there's things we think we can do," Kellick said. "Now we have to get out and execute."

The big turnaround

The Hedgesville Eagles appear to be on their way back after a forgettable 1999 season.

Hedgesville snapped a 12-game losing streak by beating James Wood in the second week of the season and in the process gave Dave Lopez his first win as the Eagles' coach.

They ended the season with a flurry, beating a good Allegany team 16-13 before winning close games against Eastern Panhandle rivals Musselman and Jefferson to finish at 5-5.

"The thing we tried to do this year was get the program back to respectability," Lopez said. "You go 0-10, who respects you? So that was what we wanted to do first and foremost this year."

The difference, Lopez said, was that players made plays this season that they didn't make last season.

"Allegany was moving down the field and we intercepted a shuttle pass," Lopez said. "Then we go to Musselman and block an extra point to avoid overtime. And we shut down one of the best running backs in the state (Damon McDowell) against Jefferson)."

McDowell needed over 200 yards to break the school record for career rushing yards. Considering he rushed for 300 yards in the 1999 finale against the Eagles, the record was a possibility.

Hedgesville held him to 104 yards.

"He had a 24-yard gain near the end or he would have been under 100," Lopez said. "They were just getting all over him. They didn't want him to come in here and break the record on their home field. They stepped up and delivered."

While Lopez is satisfied with his team's 5-5 record, he said that satisfaction won't last for long.

"In a certain way, I'm satisfied. I'm proud of the way they responded after a 1-4 start," Lopez said. "But I won't be truly satisfied until we win it all."

This week's notebook was compiled by sports editor Mark Keller.

The Herald-Mail Articles